‘Suicide Squad’ proves to be a powerful box-office force


Deadshot and his bad-guy gang hit the target this weekend, as “Suicide Squad” notched an estimated $135.1 million at the U.S. box office for the largest August opening in history.

Together with $132 million from 57 overseas markets -- including $14 million in the United Kingdom and $11 million in Olympics-gripped Brazil — it gave the Warner Bros. dark comedy one of the best weekends of a dismal live-action summer.

The superhero film, starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie, offered the second-highest live-action U.S. opening this season, behind “Captain America: Civil War” ($179 million), and the third-highest superhero opening this year, after DC’s own “Batman v Superman” ($166 million). When the official tallies are reported Monday, it could well finish ahead of the biggest animated opening of the year, “Finding Dory” ($135 million).


The results mark a triumphant conclusion of sorts: “Suicide Squad” overcame mixed responses to an early trailer and high-profile reports of re-shoots to earn its big opening.

“The movie started in one place. But all movies start in one place,” said Jeffrey Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ executive vice president of domestic theatrical distribution. “In the end, we had a major success. The cast was wicked fun, David Ayer did a great job with the story, and the marketing was extraordinary.”

He also cited a weekend in which box office overall reached $229 million, the first time, he noted, that the $200-million mark had been broken on an August weekend. “This far exceeded our expectations in every way,” he said.

But hurdles remain. David Ayer’s ensemble pic must survive weak reviews and a middling CinemaScore (B plus) to hold on in the coming weeks.‎ Past DC movies, including “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman,” have fallen at least 65% in their second weekends, a precipitous drop. Such a fall for “Suicide Squad” could revive talk of the durability of DC films.

The comics giant has been battling to compete with Marvel Studios, a rivalry underscored when Ayer echoed a fan’s “... Marvel” at the movie’s New York premiere this week. (The director later walked back the comments on Twitter.)

It’s easy to see why DC is feeling the heat from Marvel. In the last two summers, the three releases from the Disney-owned studio (“Civil War,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man”) tallied more than $3 billion at the global box office, for an average of more than $1 billion per film. “Batman v. Superman,” meanwhile, came in with a comparatively lower $873 million worldwide earlier this year.


Still, this weekend belonged to DC. “Suicide Squad” didn’t just break but also shattered the August record; previously, the highest U.S. opening was another superhero ensembler, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which opened to $94 million two years ago.

It also marked Smith’s biggest opener, topping his 2007 apocalypse saga “I Am Legend,” which notched $90 million when adjusting for inflation.

“Suicide Squad” was seen primarily by millennials. According to Warner Bros., 76% of its audience was under age 35. The movie was watched by more men (54%) than women (46%), though notably, it was preferred by women — the film notched an A-minus score among females, compared to a B plus from males.

It was also boosted by 3-D and IMAX sales; the latter accounted for $11 million of its total.

Elsewhere at the box office, “Jason Bourne” tumbled, falling 62% to tally just $22.7 million in its second weekend of release. It has now grossed $103.4 million — off the second-weekend pace of 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum,” which had tallied $131.6 million by the same point — with an additional $91.9 million overseas.

The R-rated comedy “Bad Moms” held up sturdily, falling just 40% in its second weekend to bring its cumulative total to $51.1 million


Animated smash “The Secret Life of Pets” continued its stellar run in its fifth weekend with $11.6 million in the U.S.; it has now grossed $320 million at home and crossed the $500-million mark worldwide.

“Star Trek Beyond” continue to lag well behind ts predecessors’ pace, grossing $10.2 million in its third weekend of release and reaching $127.9 million at home. Each of the previous two modern “Star Trek” films surpassed $225 million in the U.S., a mark “Beyond” will almost certainly fall well short of.

And the Kevin Spacey talking-cat comedy “Nine Lives” eked out some pained mews: The Barry Sonnenfeld film managed just $6.5 million in its opening weekend.

The battle will shape up for “Suicide Squad” in the weeks ahead, as the studio looks to build off its strong opening and set the stage for several upcoming DC movies, including the 2017 releases “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League.”

Goldstein said there was less concern about a drop-off for “Suicide Squad” than in the past, citing an Easter weekend opening that front-loaded “Batman v Superman.”

“We have a very different set of circumstances this time around,” he said.

Despite the August dates, though, the next two weeks are busy and won’t provide “Suicide Squad” with a clear runway.


This week will see Seth Rogen raunch-cartoon “Sausage Party” and, to a lesser extent, family pic “Pete’s Dragon” and Meryl Streep’s opera-fest “Florence Foster Jenkins,” compete with the WB actioner. The following week will bring the release of several high-profile male-oriented movies, including Timur Bekmambetov’s re-imagining of “Ben-Hur” and Todd Phillips” arms-trade black comedy “War Dogs.”